June 5th 2017 after being confirmed as the new permanent Killie boss: “The challenge I have is that we currently have 10 – possibly 12 – players under contract to the club. “We have 10 loan signings going back so the hardest part of my job will be replacing them.
I need to make sure that the players we bring in know this league and know this club. I won’t say anything negative about what’s happened here in the past but I won’t be going down the route of brining in lots of players on loan.
There have been conversations with (directors) Billy Bowie and John Kiltie about how I want to build a team - and that means we can’t rebuild it every single pre-season, which has been the case for too long now.
I want to bring some continuity to the club so the fans can feel some rapport with the players instead of bringing in people they’ve never heard of and then repeating that cycle every year.
Obviously, this approach is going to take time to come together. We’ve looked at Aberdeen and St Johnstone and how they’ve done it – you don’t usually see too many coming and going at those clubs each summer.
“That’s why this window is so important – it’s probably the biggest challenge of my career. It’s all about bringing in the right players and then hitting the ground running because, if I don’t, I’ll be under pressure from the start.”
McCulloch distanced himself from suggestions that his former Rangers team-mate Kirk Broadfoot could be among the first of those experienced heads he wants at the club, pointing out that he’s still under contract at Rotherham.
But there is no doubt he is looking for experience to help along a squad packed with talented young kids - including young Greg Taylor who scored a stunning goal for Scotland’s Under 20s this to beat Brazil at the Toulon tournament.
We have, without doubt, the best pathway from youth team to first team in the country. We’re the youngest team in Britain – last season we finished with a schoolboy on our bench.
Innes Cameron couldn’t train with us during the week because he was studying for his exams but he would turn up on a Saturday and still managed to get on the pitch.
When Scotland beat Brazil we had Greg Taylor, the goalscorer, plus Iain Wilson and Adam Frizzell in the team and another player in the squad, which is more than any other club.
They are the future for Kilmarnock and they’ve all come through the academy and we have to take pride in that. Hamilton are the only other club doing as much as we are in that department.
Our first team’s average age last season was 24.4, which made us the 27th youngest team in Europe. Even our loan signings were mostly teenagers.
But now that I’ve got the job, I think we’ll need a couple of experienced players to help these kids, along with Kris Boyd, Steven Smith, Rory McKenzie and Jamie MacDonald.
There are one or two players whose contract ended I still want to speak to. I had discussions with Jordan Jones, who did really well for me last season.
We have a good relationship and it was brilliant to read that he wouldn’t re-sign unless I got the job. He hadn’t been in the team until Peter and myself took charge.
We gave him encouragement and a little bit of confidence and now he’s in the Northern Ireland squad. In my opinion, he’s still only shown 70 percent of what he’s capable of – he can go a lot further.”
It’s a new dawn for the club, so hopefully everyone in the community will come back to support the team, create an atmosphere on a Saturday that’s intimidating.
Everyone bangs on about our home form, it’s been bad for the last few years, the last five years have been the worst in the club’s history.
It’s easier for away teams to come and play here when there isn’t quite as much of an atmosphere.
It gives the opposition players a lift and they thrive on playing at this lovely stadium, lovely pitch without much of an atmosphere. They’re not intimidated at all and I want us all to change that together.”